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Luminescent single-walled carbon nanotube-sensitized europium nanoprobes for cellular imaging

Authors Avti PK, Sitharaman B

Received 28 December 2011

Accepted for publication 11 February 2012

Published 17 April 2012 Volume 2012:7 Pages 1953—1964

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/IJN.S29545

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Pramod K Avti, Balaji Sitharaman
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, USA

Abstract: Lanthanoid-based optical probes with excitation wavelengths in the ultra-violet (UV) range (300–325 nm) have been widely developed as imaging probes. Efficient cellular imaging requires that lanthanoid optical probes be excited at visible wavelengths, to avoid UV damage to cells. The efficacy of europium-catalyzed single-walled carbon nanotubes (Eu-SWCNTs), as visible nanoprobes for cellular imaging, is reported in this study. Confocal fluorescence microscopy images of breast cancer cells (SK-BR-3 and MCF-7) and normal cells (NIH 3T3), treated with Eu-SWCNT at 0.2 µg/mL concentration, showed bright red luminescence after excitation at 365 nm and 458 nm wavelengths. Cell viability analysis showed no cytotoxic effects after the incubation of cells with Eu-SWCNTs at this concentration. Eu-SWCNT uptake is via the endocytosis mechanism. Labeling efficiency, defined as the percentage of incubated cells that uptake Eu-SWCNT, was 95%–100% for all cell types. The average cellular uptake concentration was 6.68 ng Eu per cell. Intracellular localization was further corroborated by transmission electron microscopy and Raman microscopy. The results indicate that Eu-SWCNT shows potential as a novel cellular imaging probe, wherein SWCNT sensitizes Eu3+ ions to allow excitation at visible wavelengths, and stable time-resolved red emission. The ability to functionalize biomolecules on the exterior surface of Eu-SWCNT makes it an excellent candidate for targeted cellular imaging.

Keywords: cellular imaging, confocal microscopy, europium, single-walled carbon nanotubes, luminescence, visible excitation

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